The Symposium was held between March 17th and April 4th, 2007.
The original posts have been combined…so the last post is at the top and the first post is at the bottom.
As you can see in the photos, Craig Medson has done a wonderful job of repairing Fong’s shattered sculpture.
Fong and I were up early today waiting for the all important phone call from Fiona McCarron. The damaged black marble component of Fong’s sculpture has been at the studio that she shares with her husband Craig Medson. Craig is a highly experienced stone sculptor and was commissioned to repair the work.
Fiona rang just after breakfast, "it's loaded, and ready to go. Meet you at the park."
It was sunny in the Hinterland, here it was overcast. The sculpture was very carefully prepared for hoisting into position, when it began to rain. The risks involved in moving such objects increased alarmingly, I’m sure Fong, Fiona and I were thinking the same thing and had our collective mental fingers crossed.
This time everything went smoothly, although poor Fiona^ is looking a bit damp around the ears.
Of course a bit of subsequent jiggling was required. Sculpture can’t simply be plopped into position. Once a work is ‘down’, it’s usually there for good- barring some random act of vandalism or natural disaster; so levels must be checked and rechecked.
A couple of hours later…
The landscapers will be on site soon to gussy things up and Fong will be on hand to make any further aesthetic decisions.
I’ll be back as well- as official girl friday and amateur photographer.
At last the new site for Fong’s work was ready. On Tuesday morning we headed back out to the coast in high spirits looking forward to the final and most important phase of any artwork, but in particular… large scale site specific sculpture, installation. We’ve installed a lot of Public Art and never had any major dramas-until now.
Here you can see the 2 components ready to leave the compound where the sculptors worked under public scrutiny for 16 days. The white slab was loaded without a hitch.
The black ‘mountain’ piece likewise was loaded without mishap.
Both arrived at their new home. It’s very important that everything has been prepared correctly before placing works that are difficult to move afterwards. Fong left the site for 5 minutes to get a spirit level expecting that the council team would wait for him before attempting to move anything.
They didn’t wait and started to lift the large black sculpture.
From the ‘safe’ distance that I was required to watch from I saw the slings shift and heard the sickening thud of the work dropping back onto the truck tray.
Moments later Fong returned and with a heavy heart inspected the damage.
I hoped that the damage if any was to heavily textured, organic looking parts. Unfortunately it was to perhaps, the key element of the piece.
The ‘male’ jigsaw lug was completely shattered. Fong had spent days of precision carving and polishing…for nothing it seemed.
He didn’t say much…what could be said? There was no hooray, no feeling of a job well done as the second component was unloaded.
The damaged work remained on the truck and has been taken away to see how- and if it can be repaired.
The site the council has chosen is beautiful. The various grasses and natural textures of the surrounding enhancing and extending the contemporary feeling of the installation.
^Fong leaving the site with the spirit level.
This sculpture is not only made of stone but of the blood, sweat and tears of an artist.
I will keep you posted as events unfold
Officially, the Maroochydore International Sculpture Symposium is finished.
On the last day (Saturday March 31st) , the sculptors really applied the elbow grease to get their respective works finished. Simona barely stopped for lunch, by the end of the day she had a bad case of sunburn.
Fong was well on schedule with only some last minute application of tennex to apply. This helps to repel the paints that graffiti artists use to ‘tag’ their art!
Simona flitted around her work smoothing out any imperfections, becoming a little light headed at times under our fierce autumn sun.
Probably the hardest task each day was the cleanup. Marble shards are very sharp and so it was the responsibility of each sculptor to clean up around their respective works. All these guys are thinking about at this stage is a cold beer, something to eat and bed.
Joe Natoli, mayor of Maroochydore officiates at an informal closing ceremony. He’s an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and is seen above discussing Fong’s finished sculpture.
Raffaelle Mallucci, the producer of ‘Anita’ -a film based on the life of Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi, who fought for a unified Italy in the 1800s, and his wife, the actress Solvi Stubing were amongst the delegation of Italian business people attending.
They asked a lot of questions and spent time discussing the work with each sculptor.
Simona’s work proved very popular with the audience. It seemed everyone wanted to pose for a picture with her. She certainly looks different without her overalls or ‘tutti’ and the scarf she always wears to keep the marble dust out of her luxuriant curly black hair.
Cameras were busy all afternoon. Hutcho and his son looked completely unfazed by all the hoo ha.
Fiona McCarron, the Project Manager considered herself still on the job. She explained the concepts and working process behind each work to interested members of the public and invited guests.
The Symposium was extremely popular with everyone, appealing to people of all ages as seen by this charming retiree.
I snapped these unsuspecting teenagers who are obviously ‘over’ the event. I shouldn’t bag the younger generation, to be fair -two of them are Fong and my sons, the fellow standing in the middle is their friend. They’ve seen enough of the ‘process’ to last a lifetime.
Officially for the sculptors, the Maroochy Sculpture Symposium comes to an end on Sunday April 1st.
Fong and Simona are on schedule,
but Hutcho has a lot of ground to cover. This is not because he’s slacking off, rather it’s because the marble block he was given was a lot bigger than he required, so he scaled his work up accordingly.
It’s been a week fraught with difficulties. The weather has continued to be very hot, sapping the energy of even the seasoned Australian sculptors. Simona has been unwell and earlier in the week Luca Marovino left the symposium for good. What happens to his half finished sculpture is unknown at this point in time. Despite these problems, Fong and Hutcho have continued to put in the long hours required to meet the looming deadline.
For onlookers the progress seems much slower.Now that the works have been ‘roughed out’, the many stages of finishing which includes the laborious process of polishing must follow.
Displayed in front of each sculptors site are the maquettes they submitted to the Maroochy Shire Council. These are usually indicative only, particularly in Fong’s case as he prefers to use ‘floaters’ rather than quarried slabs whenever possible.
When viewed from this angle the negative spaces of the white marble slab seem soft and billowing, more like drapery than stone.
When the dust is sluiced off the works; for a moment or two we get a hint of what the final product will look like. The reds and blacks in the monolith make for a rich foil against the gleaming grey veined white slab.
Hutcho has had to work very hard to get to this point. Very soon the crane will stand ‘Henry’- his figure, up.
Before that happens the hole for the locating pin has to be drilled into the base, and while Fiona and Simona discuss the finer points, Hutcho aided by Fong attack Henry’s bottom.
As usual the sculptors were on site early to make the most of the cooler part of the day. A crane came to turn, raise or lower the individual blocks.
Everyone involved in the symposium is working up quite a tan. Europeans usually have a hard time figuring out how old Australians are. Being a white man in a brown mans land is tough, and we’ve got the skin cancers to prove it. Sculptors are a weathered lot, they have to cope with all the vagaries of the weather, hot, cold, wet, dry: stone dust in every orifice and dire health warnings.
Fong is getting close to removing all the ‘big bits’, the negative spaces and is starting to reconcile the front horizontal saw cut back to the natural surface on the black floater block. This block will represent the hinterland region -and in particular the world famous Glasshouse Mountains, that hug the Sunshine Coast.
Hutcho’s work from this angle almost looks like a sleeping ‘Easter Island’ figure. Like Fong, he’s been concentrating on the all important voids.
Luca has a lot of material to remove from his complex design and is acutely aware of the short time frame in which to complete the project.
I have become aware of how much the individual designs reflect the artist.
Luca’s is contained, complex and technically demanding.
Fong’s work reveals his eastern aesthetics and reverence for nature.
And Hutcho’s exudes a dynamic vitality, a generous spirit and an ‘in yer face’ irreverence for the pomposity of traditional sculpture.
First thing Saturday morning as scheduled, the sculptors began ‘roughing’ out their individual blocks. The quick cut tool as seen above being used by Fong, is heavy and hard going but gets rid of a lot of material quickly. It’s not surprising that there’s hardly a sculptor alive that does not suffer from some form of RSI.
Simona has had to make some radical changes to her planned sculpture.The marble block brought from Far North Queensland had a flaw that could not be worked around. This is a common occurrence because stone is an organic material and it ‘s very difficult to spot internal fractures and flaws until the blocks are cut. Fong will also have to work around some flaws in the black marble floater which is integral to his initial concept.
Ken or ‘hutcho’ as he is fondly known has also been using the quick cut, his abstract figurative work has a lot of complicated negative spaces … so there’ll be no shilly shallying if he’s to complete it on time. Ken’s only just finished a symposium in Mount Gambier, South Australia.
Luca meanwhile has been powering along. He’s an old hand at this type of event, born in Carrara; marble is literally in his blood. Like Ken, he’s come directly from another symposium, in Tehran. He was one of twenty sculptors shortlisted from nearly 400 entrants. His work ‘Mistery’ was awarded a major prize.
The weather all weekend was very hot and the clouds of white dust billowing up from the site attracted a lot of attention . There was a steady stream of curious onlookers, many staying for long periods. When you live with a sculptor you take a lot for granted, there’s very little mystery, mostly bad backs, cranky shoulders and painful elbows. They’re always coated in dust…as seen in the photo above and then there’s the noise of the hammers, chisels and grinders. As I sat and watched the passing parade of inquisitive surfers, skaters, fishermen, holiday makers and locals out for a stroll, I realised that what they do is in fact mysterious and more worrying, a dying art form. Perhaps they are dinosaurs. The sculpture departments of art schools everywhere are to all intents and purposes defunct. We creatures of the twenty first century have short attention spans, we pace up and down in front of our microwaves, grumble about our ISP speed and we want quick art not slow art. Still I have they feeling that during the next two weeks these dinosaurs are going to lay a couple of eggs. Somewhere in the crowds of children watching there is one or two thinking ‘when I grow up… I want to be just like them’.
Today the Chillagoe marble blocks arrived at Cotton Tree Park, Maroochydore. Fiona McCarron –the Project manager, expertly oversaw the positioning of each block as required by Council’s health and safety regulations.
Luca Marovino arrives this evening from Italy, Simona de Lorenza arrives tomorrow as is Ken Hutchinson who is driving. First thing this Saturday morning (March 17th) the four sculptors will begin their ‘performance’ art behind the wire mesh enclosures…so bring your bags of peanuts –they’re bound to get hungry.
The enclosures are there for everybody’s safety, stone chips can travel a long distance. This is a unique opportunity to see a time honoured skill practised by sculptors who have decades of experience under their belts. Let’s hope the rain stays away and it’s not too humid.
The Chillagoe blocks have undergone some radical changes since arriving last week at T Wrafter and Sons' Nerangbah Stone Plant. The large black marble free floater has some flaws that have required some deeper cutting than initially visualised. However, stone is a natural material and most times the sculptor has to work with it rather than try and beat it into submission. Fong will have to listen to this piece and decipher the best course. Fong has spent a lot time over the years in quarries scrambling from boulder to boulder waiting for one of them to speak. The only self portrait he has ever sculpted was aptly titled "rocks in my head", and a large one man exhibition was called "the paradoxical thinking of stone". I rest my case.
The white Chillagoe marble slab is ‘behaving’ itself. But it’s a slow process core drilling the 500mm thick slabs.
This morning Fong and I went to T. Wrafter and Sons’ stone plant to inspect the newly arrived blocks from Chillagoe. Fong’s blocks and those requested by the other sculptors were chosen by Craig Medson and Fiona McCarron, a sculptor herself and Project Manager of the Symposium. She flew to to Chillagoe which is located 215 kilometres West of Cairns, North Queensland. Chillagoe has become synonymous with high quality marble… even exporting to Italy.
Fong’s design requires a large piece of black marble and an equally large slab of white marble. He was very happy with the choice and can’t wait to release the form sleeping within the black floater.
I was fascinated with skin of the boulder which seemed to have barnacles or some sort of marine-like growth attached to it. Fiona explained that the area was once an inland sea and this was a remnant of a coral reef formed 400 million years ago – she has been sculpting Chillagoe marbles for many years.
Next week Fong will begin to drill some large core holes in readiness for the symposium.
Fiona McCarron and Hew Chee Fong standing on some of the other sculptors’ blocks.
Fong has been exhibiting since the early 80’s and has several Public Art Projects under his belt…but he has never participated in a Sculpture Symposium. He, another Australian and two Italian sculptors will take part in the Maroochydore Sculpture Symposium that will coincide with the
inaugural Sunshine Coast Italian Film Festival. The legendary screen diva Sophia Loren is expected to attend, so I’m really hoping for a glimpse as I’ll be documenting this exciting event. There will also be a business expo, fashion parade, automotive displays, property showcase, soccer and of course, Italian and local food. The artists will produce their sculptures in Cotton Tree Park…let’s hope it’s neither too hot nor too wet.
The Symposium will start on March 17th, 2007 and finish on April 4th.